Make Candy with the Kids

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Homemade candy is a fun way to spend a rainy or snowy day inside with the kids. These treats also make a great holiday gift; although, you might not want to share!

Chocolate Pretzels

Combine one package chocolate chips (or 12 ounces of chocolate of your desired flavor) and 1 tablespoon of shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the mixture in short increments until the chocolate has melted.

If using pretzel rods, dip the rod just before dipping your fingers. Use a pair of tongs to dip folded pretzels. Gently shake the pretzel to let excess chocolate drip off. Lay the pretzels on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper or parchment paper.

Pretzels are easy to add your signature touch. Sprinkle cookie sprinkles, crushed candies or chopped nuts onto the pretzels to add texture and flavor. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. After waiting, you can drizzle a small amount of contrasting chocolate over the pretzels to finish them off.

Tiger Fudge

Melt one cup of peanut butter and 8 ounces of white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in short increments, stirring frequently, until smooth. Repeat the process with 1/3 cup peanut butter and 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Line a 8x8 pan with wax paper or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Place alternating spoonfuls of each chocolate mixture into the pan. Cut through the mixture with a knife or spatula to create swirls of color. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Homemade Reese's Cups

This recipe requires a little patience, so it's better for the older kids.

Break apart a Hershey's bar and place two squares into each silicone baking cup. Place the cups into the microwave and melt until the chocolate is melts to the bottom of the cups. Carefully remove the cups with oven mitts and place on a baking sheet. Place a spoonful of the peanut butter of your choice into the center of the chocolate and freeze.

Place two to three small squares of chocolate per peanut butter cup into a microwave-safe bowl and melt. Spoon the chocolate over the frozen peanut butter cup until the peanut butter is completed covered. Try to flatten the chocolate as you do. The cups should fill the baking cup 1/3 or 1/2. Return the cups to the refrigerator for 2 hours to solidify.

Remove the candy from the baking cups and wrap with cellophane and a tie with a ribbon to give as a gift!

 

Party Drinks for Kids

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Holiday parties are a time for family and friends to get together to celebrate. Hosting a party is fun and rewarding, but it takes a little extra consideration to make sure that everyone feels included. Non-alcoholic party drinks for kids will let them feel like a part of the grown up crowd.

Tropical, Fruity Drinks

Children are attracted to bright colors, which makes tropical fruity drink variations a sure hit at any gathering. Sweet punches are easy to make and can be modified in ways that appeal to the younger taste, and also fit the theme of the holidays.

Lime Sherbet Punch

  • 2 Quarts of Lime Sherbet
  • 2 Liters of Ginger Ale or Sprite
  • 1 Can of Pineapple Juice
  • Assorted Fruit (orange slices, Maraschino cherries)

Mix all of the ingredients into a big bowl. This punch is a bright, festive green color. The additional fruit and floating sherbet dress up the presentation, intriguing kids to take a taste. If they're old enough, let them stir up the punch. You can also make ice cubes in advance using the juice instead of water.

Mocktails

Non-alcoholic versions of popular drinks are perfect for teenagers who want to taste classic recipes but are not yet old enough for liquor. Consider having a signature cocktail for the night, one for adults and one suitable for the kids to drink. A Pina Colada is simple to make, and can be dressed up for a holiday party with creative garnishes.

Virgin Pina Colada

  • 1/4 Cup of Ice
  • 1 Cup of Pineapple Juice
  • 1 Cup of Coconut Milk
  • 1 Cup of Pineapple Chunks

Blend all of these ingredients for up to 4 servings at a time. To make a few batches ahead of time, repeat the recipe and add the finished product into a punch bowl.

Serving Tips

Let the kids use fancy cocktail glasses or holiday theme glasses for their drinks, but be sure they are easy to distinguish from the ones used by adults. Let them have fun decorating their drinks with an assortment of garnishes that can be set out buffet style. Demonstrate how to add a wedge of fruit to the side of the glass. Also create small skewers of cherries, grapes, and other small fruit to make non-alcoholic drinks as fun as real cocktails.

 

Holiday Help From the Kids

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The holidays are here and moms across the world are working way too hard to get everything prepared. If you haven't enlisted them already, it's time to let the kids do some of the work for you. Kids love helping in the kitchen and there are ways they can do so without being in the way or needing too much supervision. Teaching them to set a nice holiday table is not only a big help to you, but will give them something valuable to be proud of, too!

Dishes

While you are cooking, you build up a huge collection of dishes used for cooking. Measuring spoons, bowls and cups pile up quickly. Everything starts collecting in the sink. These are the kinds of things that kids can wash, or rinse off and put in the dishwasher. Even the youngest ones can get involved and help the older ones.

Cooking

One of the biggest duties of a cook is stirring and mixing. Children can help with that. The older ones can even do the stirring on the stove top. The little ones can help mix the ingredients for you. There are even recipes that are easy for kids. They can make puddings or fun colored gelatins. Or they can make some very easy peanut butter cookies:

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg

Directions:
Mix all ingredients until a large ball is formed. Break the ball into 16 similar sized balls. Mash with fork in two directions on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 16 minutes.

In this recipe, the younger kids can do everything but put the cookies in the oven.

General Cleaning

Young children love to clean more than you might think. Give them a broom and they will do the best impression of sweeping the floor that they can. As they get older, they tend to grow out of this, so take advantage of it while you can! Give them a broom. Give them a duster. When they are old enough, let them run the vacuum, especially if you have a smaller, lightweight type. They will feel all grown up. Make sure to let them set the table; they love that. Teaching them to set a nice holiday table is not only a big help to you, but will give them something valuable to be proud of, too!

Conclusion

Children love to feel needed. They love helping adults because it makes them feel important and useful. The holidays are a great time to help improve their confidence by letting them do a lot of the chores, and you can have more time to enjoy the festivities.

 

Simple Soups for Spring

Little girl cooking

Make Dinner Fun for the Whole Family

Spring lends itself well to a variety of fresh dishes that even the most discerning palate can enjoy. Even though summer is just around the corner, chilly evenings make spring the perfect season to enjoy soup made from fresh ingredients. Your kids will also enjoy being able to help you create dinner, which will help get them away from the television and into the kitchen! The next time you find yourself looking for family cooking ideas, consider using these activities to get everyone involved. Not only will you end up with a delicious dinner, but you will also be able to strengthen the bond with your child and give them memories to cherish for years to come.

Get the Kids Involved

Kids of all ages love to help cook dinner. It not only instills good values, but helps them understand the process of creating a meal and learning where their food comes from. Before starting, be sure you prep all of the items going into your meal. This includes any chopping or the handling of raw meat. Once the hard part is done, get your kids involved by letting them measure ingredients, taste test and pitch-in during cleanup. Of course, older children can help cut vegetables if they are properly trained and supervised. To peak their interest, use ingredients that they enjoy eating and allow them to present their creation to the entire family before eating.

Make Cooking Fun

The key to child participation is making sure they have fun! Allow them to have free choice over what goes into the meal, and put them in charge of reading the recipe if you choose to use one. Other activities, such as playing music and small games or friendly competitions can help ensure enjoyment by all, and keep them coming back for more fun!

Creating your own family cooking ideas can be complicated. The next time you are looking for the perfect meal give this recipe a try and make your families’ dinner special for everyone.

Creamy Potato Soup

Ingredients:
½ pound bacon (thick cut works best)
3 large carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 large potatoes, chopped
7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. chopped parsley
1 cup grated cheese

Directions:
To begin, cut the bacon into small pieces and brown in a large skillet over medium heat. Once fully cooked, remove the bacon and drain any grease from the pan. Place the onion, celery and carrots into the same pan and saute for 2 minutes. Add in the potatoes and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Pour the broth into the onion mixture and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the burner and add the milk and heavy cream. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Remove two-thirds of the mixture from the pan and place into a large blender. Puree the soup until smooth and then pour it back into the pan. Simmer the ingredients until all of the vegetables are fully cooked. Serve in bowls garnished with cheese, bacon and fresh parsley.

Over Stuffed? 10 Great Leftover Turkey & Stuffing Recipes

 

I am crazy about Thanksgiving & Christmas Day leftovers.  I am not sure why, but sometimes I think the turkey & stuffing actually tastes better the next day (plus, I am a huge fan of fresh turkey & swiss sandwiches). 

This year, we have an abundance of leftovers and I thought I would stretch the leftovers with some creative leftover stuffing & turkey recipes.   I tried the first one last night and it was fabulous! 

If you are "over-stuffed" check out these leftover turkey & stuffing recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1).  Breakfast Stuffing Frittata

2).  Turkey & Stuffing Bundles

3).  Turkey and Stuffing Soup

4).  Turkey Casserole with Stuffing

5).  Turkey Broccoli Pie

6).  Turkey Strata

7).  Turkey Soup with Stuffing Dumplings

8).  Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms

9).  Stuffing Bites with Cranberry Pesto

10). Stuffed Shells

...add your own leftover stuffing tips and ideas in the comments section....

Strawberry Freezer Jam

jamCheck out this quick and simple recipe for Strawberry Freezer Jam share it...save it or store it...and best of all - save money in the process.

Enjoy!

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Easy Crockpot Recipe – Chicken Pot Pie

My Kind of Cookie Recipe – 1 Cookie…25 Ways

Frances Janisch

Now this is my kind of cookie recipe.  MSN just posted a great article about how to use a single, simple sugar cookie recipe to create 25 different cookies.  Some are elegant, some are childish and all of them look absolutely de-lish!

I was just pondering a Costco holiday cookie tray...but may change my mind after seeing this. 

Enjoy!

One Holiday Cookie Recipe, 25 Ways - MSN Lifestyle - Food & Entertaining - Slideshow - 1

Baked Spaghetti: Quick, Easy and De-lish Bulk Recipe

 

I am right in the middle of a "pantry challenge". 

What's that?  Well, it means different things for different people.  For me, the pantry challenge means that I am trying desperately to put off grocery shopping (one of my least favorite things in the world). 

Basically, I am going through my pantry and trying to come up with creative meals with all of the stuff I haven't used yet.  Let's just say that we've eaten a lot of tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches and hot-dogs this week.

I was very excited about tonight's meal, however.  I found a recipe for a fantastic baked spaghetti on AllRecipes.com. 

Since I purchase my cheese, spaghetti sauce and noodles at Costco, I have an abundance of those items to use. 

I decided to make three batches of the dish (without even trying it first).  Really - how can anyone (including me) mess up a spaghetti dish?

The great thing about this recipe is that it is super-simple to make mass quantities of it and it freezes wonderfully. 

A quick tip:

Line your baking dishes with at  least two layers of tin foil before adding the ingredients making sure you allow enough extra tinfoil on the sides to completely cover the dishes.

Then, "quick-freeze" the dishes (including the pans).  This will take several hours.  Once the dishes are solid (like a brick) remove them from the pans, label and freeze them for later use.

When you are ready to cook the meal, you simply place the "brick" back into the original dish and bake.

Enjoy!  =)

Deep Fried Turkey – How To Video

Would you like a simple & delicious way to prepare your turkey this year?  Try deep frying it.  We've deep fried our turkey for the past five years.  It is never dry, always juicy and never greasy (believe it or not).  I doubt we will ever return to traditional turkey roasting.

Here is a great "how-to" video from Alton Brown - one of my favorite Food TV hosts.  The only drawback to turkey frying is that it can be very dangerous.  The video does a great job of explaining how to fry it safely.

Enjoy!

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